Professor David Gorton

BA(Hons), MMus, PhD, ARAM

Academic Studies - Senior Postgraduate Tutor and Associate Head of Research
Research Programmes - Senior Postgraduate Tutor and Associate Head of Research

Composer and researcher

Associate Professor of Music

A winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize, David Gorton’s large-scale works include The Fall of Babel for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Oblique Prayers for Claire Booth and the London Sinfonietta, and Schmetterlingsspiel for Christopher Redgate and Ensemble Exposé.

Described by Gramophone magazine as working in the “more radical domain” of British music, David Gorton’s works are often characterized by microtonal tuning systems and performer virtuosity. Yet alongside apparently complex works his output includes compositions for amateur choirs and pieces in the ABRSM Spectrum series.

Since 2010 three portrait albums have been released of his music on the Métier and Toccata Classics labels. Trajectories (Métier, 2010) emerged from a series of residencies at the Tate Gallery in St Ives, and includes String Quartet: Trajectories, commissioned for the Kreutzer Quartet to be performed in the sea-facing gallery space.

Orfordness (Métier, 2014) comprises compositions that explore ideas of landscape and memory. The disc takes its name from a solo piano piece written for Zubin Kanga that draws on programmatic references to the abandoned military base on Orford Ness, including the testing of secret hardware and a UFO encounter. This preoccupation with East Anglian landscapes is continued in more recent works, including a collaboration with photographer Claire Shovelton resulting in Burgh Castle, written for CHROMA and pianist Roderick Chadwick at the Huddersfield Festival.

Variations on John Dowland (Toccata Classics, 2017) represents another compositional preoccupation, that of pre-baroque English music. The disc contains two substantial pieces based on original material by John Dowland: Lachrymae Variations for the string orchestra Longbow and violinist Peter Sheppard Skærved, and Forlorn Hope for guitarist Stefan Östersjö. These are set alongside arrangements of Byrd and Morley’s own variations on Dowland.

David Gorton was a student at Durham University, King’s College London, and the Royal Academy of Music, studying composition with Harrison Birtwistle and Simon Bainbridge. His music is published by Verlag Neue Musik, Berlin.

David Gorton was appointed University of London Associate Professor of Music in February 2016.

Research Statement

As a researcher David is interested in exploring new instrumental techniques, alternative tuning systems, performer virtuosity, and developing diverse models of collaborative practice. In 2004–06 he held a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship for a compositionally-driven project about musical time, structure, and performance. He has presented his work at conferences and universities in Europe, America, and Canada, and was on the programme committee of the Performance Studies Network International Conferences in 2016 and 2018. He is an associate researcher at the Orpheus Institute in Ghent.



David Gorton: Variations on John Dowland (Toccata Classics, 2017). Longbow, Peter Sheppard Skærved (director), Stefan Östersjö

David Gorton: Orfordness (Métier, 2015). Zubin Kanga, Christopher Redgate, Neil Heyde, Kreutzer Quartet

Electrifying Oboe (Métier, 2013). Christopher Redgate, Ensemble Exposé, Roger Redgate, Milton Mermikides

Trajectories: Music by David Gorton (Métier, 2010). Neil Heyde, Peter Sheppard Skærved, Roderick Chadwick, Kreutzer Quartet

Selected Compositions

Lachrymae Variations for 15 solo strings (Verlag Neue Musik, NM11773)
First performed by Longbow, Peter Sheppard Skærved (director), Maison Dieu, Dover, 20 May 2016. Recorded on David Gorton: Variations on John Dowland (Toccata Classics, 2017).
Three Deleuzabelli Variations for ensemble
Commissioned for the Deleuzabelli Variations project with the Hermes Ensemble as part of 'Experimentation versus Interpretation: Exploring New Paths in Music Performance in the Twenty-First Century' [ME21]. First performed by the Hermes Ensemble, Antwerp, 17 March 2015.

Burgh Castle for piano and ensemble (Verlag Neue Musik, NM11774)
Commissioned by CHROMA with funding from the Performing Rights Society Foundation. First performances given by Roderick Chadwick (piano) and CHROMA ensemble, The Forge and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, 11 and 23 November 2015.

Fosdyke Wash for piano quintet (Verlag Neue Musik, NM2888)
First performed by Zubin Kanga (piano) and the Kreutzer Quartet, St John's Church Waterloo, Waterloo Festival, 29 June 2013. Recorded on David Gorton: Orfordness (Métier, 2015).

Austerity Measures II for Howarth-Redgate oboe and string quartet (Verlag Neue Musik, NM2885)
First performed by Christopher Redgate (oboe) and the Kreutzer Quartet, Wilton's Music Hall, 12 June 2013. Recorded on David Gorton: Orfordness (Métier, 2015).

Forlorn Hope for 11-string alto guitar and optional electronics (Verlag Neue Musik, NM2886)
First performed by Stefan Östersjö (guitar) and Juan Parra Cancino (electronics), ORCiM Research Festival, Orpheus Institute, Ghent, 5 October 2012. Recorded on David Gorton: Variations on John Dowland (Toccata Classics, 2017).

Orfordness for solo piano (Verlag Neue Musik, NM2887)
Commissioned and first performed by Zubin Kanga as part of the Out Hear contemporary music series at Kings Place, 13 February 2012. Recorded on David Gorton: Orfordness (Métier, 2015).

Schmetterlingsspiel for solo oboe and ensemble (Verlag Neue Musik, NM11775)
First performed by Ensemble Exposé, Christopher Redgate (oboe), Roger Redgate (conductor), Bates Mill, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, 21 November 2009. Recorded on Electrifying Oboe (Métier, 2013).

2nd Sonata for Cello for cello and optional electronics (Verlag Neue Musik, NM2890)
First performed by Neil Heyde (cello) and David Gorton (electronics), Connect Festival, Malmö, Sweden, 15 November 2011. Recorded on David Gorton: Orfordness (Métier, 2014).

2nd String Quartet: Frozen Landscapes (ABRSM Publishing)
Commissioned by the London String Quartet Foundation and ABRSM (Publishing) Limited with funds provided by the John S. Cohen Foundation and the Neville Abraham Foundation. First performed by the Sacconi Quartet, Wigmore Hall, 11 March 2008.

String Quartet: Trajectories (Verlag Neue Musik, NM2892)
Commissioned by Tate St Ives. First performed by the Kreutzer Quartet, Tate Gallery, St Ives, 17 September 2006. Recorded on Trajectories: Music by David Gorton (Métier, 2010).

The Fall of Babel for orchestra (Verlag Neue Musik, NM11776)
Commissioned by ‘spnm’. First performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Zsolt Nagy (conductor), Maida Vale Studio 1, 23 June 2006, and broadcast on BBC Radio 3, ‘Hear and Now’.

Oblique Prayers for solo soprano and ensemble
Commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society. First performed by the London Sinfonietta, Martyn Brabbins (conductor), Claire Booth (soprano), Queen Elizabeth Hall, 27 April 2002, and broadcast on BBC Radio 3, ‘Hear and Now’.


Eric Clarke, Mark Doffman, David Gorton, and Stefan Östersjö, ‘Fluid Practices, Solid Roles? The evolution of Forlorn Hope’ in: Eric Clarke and Mark Doffman (eds.), Creativity, Improvisation and Collaboration: Perspectives on the Performance of Contemporary Music (Oxford University Press, 2018).

David Gorton and Christopher Redgate, ‘Austerity Measures and Rich Rewards’ in: Kathleen Coessens (ed.), Experimental encounters in music and beyond (Leuven University Press, 2017).

David Gorton and Stefan Östersjö, ‘Choose your own adventure music: on the emergence of voice in musical collaboration’, Contemporary Music Review, Vol. 35, No. 6 (2016), 579-598.
David Gorton and Zubin Kanga, ‘Risky Business: negotiating virtuosity in the collaborative creation of Orfordness for solo piano’ in: Lauren Redhead and Vanessa Hawes (eds.), Music and/as Process (Cambridge Scholars, 2016), pp. 97-115.
Esther Coorevits, Dirk Moelants, Stefan Östersjö, and David Gorton, ‘Decomposing a Composition: On the Multi-layered Analysis of Expressive Music Performance’ in: Richard Kronland-Martinet, Mitsuko Aramaic, Sølvi Ystad (eds.), Music, Mind, and Embodiment: 11th International Symposium, CMMR 2015 (Springer International Publishing, 2016), pp.167-189.
David Gorton, Simon Shaw-Miller, and Neil Heyde, ‘Instrumental Choreography: Gesture and Performance in Gorton’s Capriccio for solo cello’, in Michèle Castellengo and Huhues Genevois (eds.), La musique et ses instruments (Delatour France, 2013), pp. 485-493.
Simon Shaw-Miller and David Gorton, ‘Performing Structure: Music, art, and space’, Proceedings of the fourth Conference on Interdisciplinary Musicology (2008).


Staff Finder